Why Rio 2016 presents a golden opportunity for brands

With London 2012 still fresh in people’s minds, it is time for brands to take action for the carnival that promises to be Rio 2016…

In August, over 200 nations will come together in Rio, Brazil to compete in 42 sports in the name of the Olympics. It is an event that takes place on the world stage, attracting the attention of a global audience. It is also a huge opportunity for brands to run inspired, colourful marketing campaigns that tap into the sporting mania that envelopes each nation.

“Rio is a great opportunity for brands,” says Amy Nield, Head of sales promotion agency, Protravel. “London 2012 was so successful and generated such a feel good factor, particularly in the UK. There will be many people who will be clamouring to get involved and back Team GB. It’s a very good time to get your brand name out there and associate it with the anticipation, excitement and winning mentality of Rio 2016.”

Let’s look at the London 2012 effect…

Indeed, Team GB and its athletes have enjoyed a higher profile since London 2012, thanks to the success of both the event itself and the individual competitors.

Consider the facts:

  • Team GB came third in the medal table, finishing with 65 medals – 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze.
  • This surpassed Team GB’s total of 47 medals at the 2008 Beijing Games.
  • It also exceeded the target of 48 medals set by UK Sport.

British athletes have remained in the spotlight

Team GB athletes have reaped the benefits. “There is more of a celebrity factor around the athletes since 2012, with more doing product endorsements, for example,” says Nield.

Farah was snapped up as the face of Quorn

Take British distance runner Mo Farah, who became a national hero after winning double gold at London 2012. He was soon signed up as the figurehead for Quorn’s protein products, appearing in the brand’s TV adverts.

The success of London 2012 promises to fuel interest in Rio 2016, and the numbers speak for themselves…

Five phenomenal facts about the reach of London 2012 (source: IOC):

1. 90% of the UK population watched BBC coverage of the Olympics 2012, with 52 million people tuning in for at least 15 minutes.

2. For the first time, the IOC provided live broadcast of the Games via its YouTube channel. It recorded 59.5 million video views in 64 territories in Asia and SubSaharan Africa. Almost 60% of the views were for live streams, with the remainder for video on demand services. The number of subscribers to the channel increased tenfold during the Games.

3. London 2012 was the most watched television event in American history, according to NBC, with more than 219 million viewers.

4. The IOC’s Facebook page added 700,000 Olympic fans during the Games, making a total of four million people.

5. London 2012’s social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+, attracted 4.7 million followers. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) reported that there were 150 million tweets about the Games, including 1.55 million “support your team” tweets recorded for all 204 National Olympic Committees (NOC).

So how can brands capitalise on Rio?

Promotions don’t have to link directly to Rio 2016, and indeed, the IOC’s (International Olympic Committee) tight regulations dictate that non-sponsors of the event are prohibited from doing so (scroll down to see more under: Check out the IOC’s intellectual property).

With a little creativity, any brand can run a promotion that taps into the party atmosphere of Rio 2016. “If brands work closely with specialists, they will be able to identify a compelling theme or mood that capitalises on the Olympics while still resonating strongly with the individual’s brand’s values,” says Nield.

From dancing to beaches…think laterally

After all, Brazil is synonymous with many things, from dancing and carnivals to football, beaches and rainforests. How can brands theme their promotion in a way that reinforces what their brand stands for while resonating with the Olympics?

Think: ‘Learn to samba in Sao Paulo’ or ‘Experience the Rio Carnival’.  Or ‘Play beach volleyball on Copacabana Beach’. There are a wealth of experiences that will engage and excite consumers if brands think laterally…

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McCoy’s did just that…

McCoy’s is a good example of such lateral thinking. The crisp brand ran a promotion during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, inviting consumers to nominate their local pub to be re-created as a pop-up pub in Rio during the World Cup. Winners could win a trip to the pop-up pub to watch the tournament’s matches on TV.

The campaign garnered 65,000 pack entries and achieved a total reach of 1.4 million, as well as racking up 1.9 million impressions. While England failed to perform, the campaign itself was a fine example of on-brand, creative thinking that didn’t step on FIFA’s – or its sponsors – toes.

Read more about football and travel promotions in our recent blog post: https://www.promorati.com/blog/how-brands-are-putting-football-at-the-heart-of-travel-promotions/

Check out the IOC’s intellectual property

“Companies have to be very careful about how they organise promotions that tap into Rio 2016 if they are not official sponsors,” says Nield. “There are strict rules about the associations brands can and can’t make, which words and images they can and can’t use, and what exactly is registered as the IOC’s intellectual property.”

As the IOC states, ‘It is forbidden to use the Rio 2016 brands as a theme or focus for any kind of promotion, competition and/or lottery draw, in a manner that might create a direct association with the Games.’

For more information take a look at this comprehensive guide to the Rio 2016 brand protection guidelines. 

While official sponsors benefit from a guaranteed exclusive association and the right to use Official Marks for promotional and marketing purposes, non-sponsors have to think outside the box.

For example, key properties, including the following, can’t be used in advertising without permission:

  • “RIO 2016” and the Rio 2016 emblems and mascots
  • The Olympic symbol (i.e. the five rings)
  • “Team GB” and the Team GB logo
  • The Olympic motto: Faster, higher, stronger (or “citius, altius, fortius”)
  • The words: “Olympic”, “Olympian”, “Olympiad”

Where there’s a will there’s a way

While non-sponsor brands have to be vigilant when planning a promotion that taps into Rio 2016, Nield says there are always ways to navigate the challenge and find a creative solution.

“For example, if a brand uses ‘Rio’ on its own in the wording of a promotion, that is fine, but if they use ‘Rio’ plus ‘athletics’ plus ‘Brazil’, the chances of being penalised are much higher. The best approach is to focus on one key word, such as ‘Brazil’ or ‘athletics’, for example.”

Travel promotions offer some eye-catching opportunities

Promotions that centre around the appeal of Brazil or Rio as an attractive tourist destination are likely to work well, and will be elevated by the country’s increased profile due to the Olympics. “For example, a brand can run a promotion offering a chance to win a trip to the Rio Carnival in February 2017, but exploit the buzz and relevance of Rio by running the competition this summer,” says Nield.

Team up with an athlete – past or present

Brands who already have an association with a particular Team GB athlete (prior to March 2016) can also leverage this relationship, centring a prize around that athlete. “For example, consumers can win a chance to train with a particular athlete on their return from Rio.”

Alternatives are to offer prizes that feature recently retired athletes. For example, Victoria Pendleton retired from cycling after winning gold at London 2012. Brands could offer a chance to meet Victoria or win signed cycling clothing, for example. “This is a great way of striking that clear association with the Olympics, yet not contravening any IOC regulations concerning the use of current athletes,” says Nield.

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Throw a winning party – Brazilian style

For brands on a smaller budget, promotional prizes don’t have to involve sending winners on the trip of a lifetime to South America. “We are currently working with a brand to put together a promotion that enables consumers to win Brazilian party packs, complete with garden games, an iPod preloaded with Brazilian party tunes, as well as Brazilian cocktail recipes and food,” says Nield. Brands can also offer supporters packs, complete with flags, stickers and scarves for example.

Benefit from the big screen

Another option is to offer a chance to win the latest technology, such as a 4K Ultra HD TV, billed as the ultimate entertainment package to host Olympic parties with friends. “We can also arrange private screenings,” adds Nield.

Go back to grass roots

Brands can also ride the Rio wave at the same time as supporting sport at an amateur or local level as part of a promotion. For example, by offering local athletics clubs a chance to win a trip to Brazil to train on the Olympic track. Or offering schools the opportunity to win a visit from British cycling legend, Chris Hoy.

But be creative and compliant

But whatever prize suits you and your budget – from themed Brazilian garden party packs to an unforgettable trip to the Rio Carnival – ensuring that the idea is imaginative but doesn’t infringe IOC regulations in any way is key.

“There are always ways to conceive an original and powerful promotional idea that reflects a big event like Rio but does it within the guidelines,” says Nield. “It is a question of partnering with a specialist to ensure that you run a compelling and effective campaign while staying the right side of the law.”




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